When Melanie Dwyer loses her corporate job in Toronto, she is beside herself with worry. What can a forty-something woman do to replace a well-paid management position in such a lousy economy? She is also recovering from a break-up with a long-time live-in lover, a relationship she'd thought would last for ever. Now she is jobless and love-less.
In a fit of defiance, she sells her downtown condo and buys an old country property, "Summer House", hours east of Toronto, with the idea of running a bed and breakfast and living as much 'off the grid' as she can. It's her opportunity to prove how environmentally aware she's always been. Her best friend, Chris, doubts she can make a success of it; Mel has something to prove.
Along with the acquisition of chickens, barn cats, a dog, and a sheep, she finds new human friendships that she never imagined forming in her middle years. She bonds with aging artist, David, who has long given up the idea of painting anything worthwhile again, and a young, abused woman, Amy, and her small daughter, Jen, who rekindle Mel's maternal feelings when she takes them in. Mel's own grown daughter has been estranged for years. Mel will finally learn how to address the difficulties in this relationship, too.
Amy's violent lover reminds Mel of her own brutish father, and she daydreams about "doing something about him" once and for all. It would be quite easy, living so far from town with no neighbors snooping about, she joshes to David, who remains non committal, even as he wonders if she's really joking.
Mel meets others she comes to care for - Amy's delightfully outspoken grandmother, Mo, and the young and enthusiastic carpenter, Jack, who not only helps improve the house, but shows Mel how to explore her "Green" dream to the full. To her astonishment, she wonders if it's not too late to fall in love again - it certainly isn't too late for sex, she discovers - and, in the waning summer of her life, this is exquisite and amazing to her.
Reflecting on all she's achieved in her first year in the country, Mel reminds herself that while every summer must end, there is always the distinct possibility of an Indian summer.
For the first time in her life, Mel believes that anything is possible.
"In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer".
Albert Camus (1913-1960)